Sugggestion: Use Standard Forum Software

For future reference, it seems more user friendly to use free off the shelf open source forum software that everybody is already familiar with, such as for instance, phpBB.  Thousands of people have been working on phpBB for decades, you'll never catch up.  Everybody already knows how to use it.  Reinventing the wheel not necessary at this point.

That said, I am now required to disclose that I too coded my own forum software.  :-)  A mistake.  Very time consuming mistake. 

Please don't take offense at this suggestion.  Apple does the same thing with their in  house forum software, and it's far less friendly than this.   So, you did beat Apple at their own game, so kudos for that.  :-)

That's all, off my chest, no further comment.



  • I don't think FxHome are using custom(in house) forum software. If my memory serves me, I think they are using Vanilla.

  • Yep. Vanilla and it's great open source ware

  • I have thought about adding this to the wishlist. Vanilla isn't great; it's missing features like e-mail notifications and automatic quotations for replies. There are some fancy forum softwares that let you paste a picture straight from the clipboard.

    With this forum I have to click Profile > Notifications > whatever notification to see replies whereas other softwares would have a dropdown box with the notifications in it. I'm sure there are other features I miss but I can't recall right now.

  • As Norman and GrayMotion say, we are indeed using Vanilla, and a very light skin on top.

    For the most part we're happy with it. Notifications could definitely be better, as could image linking and search. The major advantage to Vanilla is that we spend a lot less time skinning, integrating and maintaining it than other Forum options.

    Some might remember that in the early days of HitFilm we used Invision Power Board, a more well-known and feature packed option. It was a nightmare to keep up to date, because the skinning practically had to be redone every time, and it took the best part of a week. We dropped IPB in favour of Vanilla mostly because it's simpler - both for users and for us, and it fits more with what we're offering.

    Even before that, the forums ran on phpBB I believe, and while it's great forum software, it can be bewildering complex for people who didn't grow up on Forums (so I'm told) - we wanted something more pared down. I've also tried various other Forum options in my career (yes, including a daft attempt to write my own), and despite it's limitations Vanilla is now my preference too.

    So - thanks for the feedback. We're particularly interested to hear what is missing/broken/could be improved in terms of features, because some of this we may be able to deliver in future, either via updates, plugins or other changes. I hope it's also a bit clearer why we chose Vanilla.

  • Search could be improved if Vanilla has the ability to do so.

    Can't search through my own posts to cut'n'paste a response from before. Can't search through someone else's posts to find a post you know they made.  Probably other stuff. 

  • I must confess I don't use the Forum search tool very often, the results from Google's " <foo>" are just so much more effective! 

  • @DanielGWood "the results from Google's " <foo>" are just so much more effective!"

    Maybe FxHome could add a search link to return the results of such a Google site search. In a new tab/window. Many don't know how to do a Google site search. Automating that for your users should be useful. For those of us that know how to do such a thing, it saves us lazy slobs a little effort.

  • Thanks for all the feedback and info. 

    My concern is not so much that some other forum software is better than Vanilla (always a matter of opinion), but rather that some softwares, such as phpBB for example, are far better known by Net users.  As example, I've been using many (many!) different forums daily for 20 years, and this is the first time I've seen Vanilla.

    If  a new visitor winds up here from a Google search or link, and they can't pretty quickly figure out how to register, there's a fair chance you've lost them forever, given how incredibly impatient we've all become here in Netland.   Say the conversion rate (reader to member) rate is dropped 10% by the unfamiliarity, over a period of years that winds up being quite a few people who don't join the forum, don't download the software, don't wind up buying anything etc.

    This might be addressed within  Vanilla by putting a link such as "helpful info for new users" at the top of every page in the template file.

    All that said, the simplicity of Vanilla does have a lot to recommend it.  I get why you like it, and I do too.  

    I agree with others that email notification of new posts in threads we're following is an essential feature for any forum software.  Maybe Vanilla will have an update someday to include that feature.

    Finally, because I am such a forum nerd, both on the blowharding and coding side, I have a ridiculous number of opinions about everything in the forum realm, which I can't seem to help, even though it's really not so important.  So thank you for graciously indulging my  compulsive interface theory addictions, and let's get back to video editing!   :-)




  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Um. This forum DOES send emails out when new posts are made in bookmarked threads. Also when someone comments in a thread you've started, and when someone sends a private message. 

    Check your Spam folders. 

  • @NormanPCN interesting thought!

    @PhilTanny regarding the familiarity of phpBB etc, that cuts both ways for us. While we have a large number of users who grew up on traditional forums and use them daily today, we also have a large number of users who came along after the forum/bb heyday. They're more familiar with walls, comment sections, twitter and reddit. That's why we opted for a really cut-down piece of software. Of course there's a lot there which is open to debate!

    We can improve the signup/sign in process for people arriving via the Forums though, you're certainly right there. I've added something to our backlog for that.

    As Triem says you should get notification emails, if you bookmark the thread (little star icon top right of page). Double-check your preferences also

  • edited August 2017

     I didn't realise that e-mail notifications were an option. The settings are at PROFILE > PREFERENCES. Presumably you don't have to mark the individual threads  if the options there cover your needs.

  • Aha, thanks guys, I too didn't realize I had to turn email notifications on.   Done did that, should be good from here out.  Duh....

    DanielG, you make a good point which helps me understand  the Vanilla choice better.  It's true, I'm  very much a creature of traditional forums, and have little interest in other more modern social media platforms, given that most seem specifically designed to discourage in depth  conversations.

    So, this thread appears to be me suggesting you Geezer-ize your site, :-) which upon reflection may not be the best of ideas.   And, btw, you really need to boost all the fonts to 50pt too, and hey, where's the Frank  Sinatra background music??    :-) 

    I would agree it's probably not possible for me to comment upon phpBB objectively, given how many times I've used it. 

  • Another thing not mentioned so far is that the current format works well with mobile devices making for a pretty unified experience across devices that's a heck of lot easier to maintain.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @Aladdin4d "works pretty well?" Man, it's OPTIMIZED for mobile, along with every other website these days. 

    Web design got so damn boring when everyone started designing for little phone screens. Big banner at the top, sans-serif font, tons of white space... Everything today looks like it's literally made from one template! (grr, grumble, get off my lawn!) 

    The Hitfilm 1 and two version of this site was one of my favorite layouts on the web. I understand why it won't come back--all those panes are impossible to make legible on a 5 or 6 inch screen--but I do miss it. 

    Current design is functional, so I can't complain too much, other than to tweak @DanielGWood in a good natured manner about the forum search being substandard when the devs don't use it. ;-) 

    @PhilTanny "Geezerize!" Hahaha! But we geezers can deal with The Beatles instead of Sinatra, perhaps? 

  • <wandering slightly off topic> there are two things I miss from web "design": scrolling marquees and animated under construction GIFs. Glory days, glory days.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @DanielGWood back in the day I was audio end of a first rate Flash team--our animator was doing 3D animation in Flash before tools were added. Macromedia tried to get him to write a section for the manual in Flash 4, but Romeo didn't think the money was right to "Give away my secrets."

    We took 2nd place at the first Macromedia Internet Animation Awards in 2001. Mann's Chinese Theater, and I'm sitting behind Bill Plympton and next to Bruce Timm and Curt Geda. Good times. 

  • edited August 2017

    If I may interject something on Search.

    Although there are advanced search option for Vanilla at the corporate level the cost is just not justifiable for a small forum such as this one BUT there is a plugin for Vanilla called SphinxSearch that would indeed help with search.

    More about Sphinx:

    You could also incorporate Google in url search right into the code as well..but the page the results are displayed on would not match the skin.
    NOTE: To some anything older than a year must be this is a code from 2011 that worked just perfect.

    One note though - search works best if you DO NOT allow Titles of post to be changed like I've seen done here. Not to mention that from a SEO point of view that is extremely bad practice. 

    Now back to the regular scheduled thread......


  • I like Titles of Posts to be changed, because I suggested it. ;) It makes it easier to update "User's Own" threads when they add new content, or to add [Closed] or [Answered] to posts that are either of those things.

    But...I also complained about Search... does not compute... <Ack!>

  • edited August 2017

    Um, didn't see this before..

     "Geezerize!" Hahaha! But we geezers can deal with The Beatles instead of Sinatra, perhaps?

    The Beatles was for p....s.   I'd say more along the lines of The Yardbirds. @Phil Tanny Me don't think there are many 80 years old Sinatra geezeirs around here ???

    Meant no harm @Palacono. Personally I think the solved and answered are just fine as they can easily be searched and indexed both in Vanillas db as well as Google. I speak more  update blah blah blah...while great for end user use it's limited as eye candy on first or second page. After that it's hardly seen. It's pretty tough to get a clean search out of updated my blah blah blah. Mostly gibberish to the db

  • Indeed, if we do improve the search functionality it will almost definitely have to be via Sphinx (the Vanilla team have said they have no plans to improve the built-in search, as they don't think it can compete with something Sphinx-based). We do have an item in our tracker for this.

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